Japanese 101

I am living in Japan for a year now and studying Japanese for 9 months. I am a working student. I worked in the morning and attend Nihongo class at night. How I do it? Time Management, patience and lots of matcha. So here are some tips on how to study Nihongo or Japanese Language for beginners, I am not saying that this will also work for you because all people have different studying habits but I will share it to you anyway.

  1. Hiragana and Katakana

I came here in Japan last year with zero Nihongo. Yes, as in zero. I don’t know how to read, write and speak Japanese at all. I started with writing Hiragana, because this is the basic Japanese writing. This is what they first taught with Japanese elementary student.I learned it by myself it is pretty easy if you like memorization like me, because that is all you just have to do. Memorize as it is. If you are not in Japan, you can just search on google for Hiragana chart or if you here, you can buy it at local bookstores.

The method is same with Katakana, memorization is just the key. In Katakana, Japanese use this only for English words or foreign words. As we all know, Japanese-English is really different. They have different pronunciation for example: In English, it is ‘hamburger’ but in Japanese-English, they pronounce hamburger as ‘ham-ba-ga’ that is the time when they use Katakana in writing.

2. Read lots Children’s books

When you know how to write, well practically you know how to read. That is why I started with writing. Children’s book has no kanji at all. The sentence are simple and easy to understand if you are a beginner. But like I told you earlier, my nihongo is zero back then. I still read it even though I don’t understand a thing. It helps me to remember the characters and familiarize myself with how the grammar pattern works.

3. Grammar and Pronunciations

This is when I decided to enroll for an evening class because for an obvious reason, this is not something I can learn by myself. I need someone to explain the grammar, particles and pronunciation to me. Before I enter class, I already know how to read and write. It helps me to cope up in the class. I am already familiar with Nihongo so, I think it helps to at least do self-study if your Japanese is in zero level before entering into a class because not all the teachers can speak English really well to explain everything to you.

4. Find a Japanese you can practice your Nihongo with

As the saying goes ‘Practice makes perfect’, this is very true. If you have a Japanese friend you are forced to speak it. No matter how bad your Nihongo is. You will be surprised by how progress you can make if you found someone to talk to in Japanese.

5. Learning Kanji

I am now working on this. This is the most difficult part. I want to survive here in Japan on my own that is why I want to learn everything. As of now, this is self-study and I am really bad at kanji. I can read just the basics of it. They say there are ‘shortcuts’ for this. I am talking about book reference that disregard the step-by-step kanji.

Locals learned kanji by Kanji Drill, each grade they have designated kanji characters to learn and memorize. I am using this method, they say that this is slow process because I have memorize grade 1-6 kanji step-by-step. But this works for me.

My Japanese is still not good but at least it is in conversational now. I made a lot of progress within that timeframe. I admit it is hard at the beginning. It requires a lot of hard-work and patience but if you are passionate to learn it nothing is impossible. So, I wish us the best of luck!


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